Buoyed by strong profits and improved reliability, US based low-cost Spirit Airlines is eyeing an international expansion.
In an interview with The Points Guy, Spirit’s incoming CEO, Ted Christie, said that the airline’s international operations have been “somewhat underdeveloped” in recent years. “We’re starting to move more to international,” he said.
On March 22, 2018, the airline launched new routes between Fort Lauderdale and Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Cap Haitien, Haiti. Spirit also has announced new service from Fort Lauderdale, to the Caribbean island of St Croix beginning in May 2018.
Christie said that the airline wants to grow its operations by about 20 per cent in 2018, both in leisure destinations like Orlando, Las Vegas, New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale, and gateway cities like Chicago, Dallas, and Houston.
Spirit recently hit the 90 per cent mark for on-time arrivals, but still ranks poorly in terms of customer complaints. Christie tied the high level of complaints in 2017 to problems related to protests by the airline’s pilots, which included sick-outs, work slowdowns, and the threat of a strike.
Outgoing Spirit CEO Robert Fornaro promised “dramatic improvements” in customer satisfaction scores in 2018, but said Spirit’s pay-as-you-go business model would not change.
“We’re going to fix the things where we don’t deliver on our promise,” he said. “We are targeting leisure customers and very price-sensitive business people, not corporate customers.”
“When a guest enters into our airplane they have certain expectations of what they’re going to see and what they’re going to feel and how it’s going to perform,” said Christie.
“It’s our job to deliver on that. And that may not be the same product you would expect when you walk on board Emirates, Delta or United, but we must be routine and consistent in the way we deliver it.”